Spartanburg gun buyback event: your questions answered

Jeff Johnston's 'Living Undeterred Tour' is motivated by both loss and desire to help others
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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SPARTABURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The City of Spartanburg is pleased with the success of its gun, buyback program over the weekend.

Drivers brought their guns, police checked to ensure they were guns, then they received $100 to $150 Visa gift cards in exchange for the firearm, depending on the type.

The purpose of the event was to combat gun violence and gun theft.

However, when the city posted the event on Facebook, some residents had mixed feelings. Comments asked if this will really work to stop crime.

Mayor Jerome Rice says it’s a step in the right direction.

“This is not the albeit solution to gun violence. And we understand that, but it is a step that we are willing to take,” Rice said.

Other residents asked if the gift cards came out of taxpayer’s money. Rice says they set aside around $10,000 worth of gift cards.

“We had a surplus of a few dollars in the budget,” Rice said.

Capt. Timothy Metz, with the Spartanburg Police Department, says the event wasn’t in response to any crime spikes. Many asked where the guns are going. Metz says they are to be destroyed later. No word on how they will destroy the guns.

“We will keep them in our secure, evidence lock-up for at least a little while. How long that that’s going to be has yet to be determined,” said Metz.

First, officers will check the recorded serial numbers.

“That’s the only check that will be completed by this office—just to make sure if it was a stolen firearm, it was returned to the rightful owner,” Metz said.

However, no questions were asked at the buyback.

Mark Smith has lived in Spartanburg for over 30 years. He feels the guns don’t need to be taken from law-abiding citizens, but out of the hands of criminals—who wouldn’t show up to an event like this.

“These are not the guns that are being used in crimes,” Smith said, “And also, the fellow on the street corner that uses his gun for crimes all the time; he’s not giving you his no more than I’m giving you mine.”

Smith says people are bringing guns that are old and not useful anyway. Smith’s idea is to be tougher on punishments for the crime.

“The gun is not the issue, the culture that we’re creating is the issue,” said Smith, “When you apply the logic that the City of Spartanburg is applying to the gun buyback program to anything else, you’ll see it fall apart.”

Rice feels the efforts are working. And the city is planning another buyback later this year.

“We just thought we needed to do something. And with the response, it was well worth it,” said Rice.

Spartanburg Police plans to release details on how many guns were purchased Tuesday, Aug. 2.